PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.—It’s hard to say how outfielder Jake Bauers has made a bigger impression on the Rays this spring. Is it the powerful way he has swung the bat—which includes a pair of mammoth home runs—or is it the mature way he carries himself?
“You wouldn’t know he was here,” first baseman Logan Morrison said, “unless he swung the bat and it made a really loud noise.”
Bauers is just 21 and has not played above Double-A Montgomery. He is still getting used to right field after being asked to move from first base to get more playing time.
None of that has stopped him from being one of the best stories in big league camp.
“I’m telling you, man, that dude is unbelievable,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “This whole camp he’s impressed everyone . . . I can’t wait to see him up on our team, so I look at that pretty swing. He is fun to watch.’’
Bauers came to Tampa Bay from the Padres in December 2014 as part of the three-team, 11-player deal in which the Rays shipped Wil Myers to the Padres, and then sent two of the prospects they got back, Trea Turner and Joe Ross, to the Nationals for Steven Souza.
But getting, and keeping, Bauers was a big part of that deal.
“Our staff had raved about him after seeing him that season,” president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said. “We’re thrilled we were able to acquire him. You don’t see many prettier swings.”
Bauers, a 2013 seventh-round pick by the Padres out of high school in Huntington Beach, Calif., realizes the Rays want him to spend more time in the minors. He hit .274/.370/.420 with 14 homers in 135 games at Montgomery last year and earned team MVP honors.
“His maturation and ability to handle the game at a young age is fascinating to me,’’ farm director Mitch Lukevics said. “Generally that’s not the case.’’
• Righthander Taylor Guerrieri sustained one of the oddest injuries of the spring when he fell in the bathroom of his rental home one morning and hit his head on the side of the bathtub, requiring several stitches.
• The Rays re-signed 27-year-old outfielder Jason Coats to a minor league deal in early March after they had released him on Jan. 30. He had Tommy John surgery shortly after Tampa Bay claimed him on waivers from the White Sox.
— Marc Topkin covers the Rays for the Tampa Bay Tribune